Paul Atreides a Reluctant Messiah in Dune: Part Two

By: Russ Matthews

To say that Dune: Part Two is being released with immeasurable expectations is an understatement almost as big as the production budget of this epic follow-up to Denis Villeneuve’s original. 

Due to a delayed release date in response to the actor/writer’s strike of 2023 and with little to celebrate at the box office over the past few months, audiences are yearning for this fantasy adventure. Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) is calling us back to Arrakis and movie theatres with the hope that this film can be the cinematic salvation following a dark time in movie history.

This chapter begins directly after the completion of the tensions that were occurring between the Fremen people and the invaders of the legions of the House Harkonnen and their ruthless leader, Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård). Paul has been working with the guerrillas to halt the harvest of spice on their planet. As he develops his desert survival skills and trust from the leadership of the people of the planet, his Bene Gesserit mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), works to prove that her son is the messianic leader of the prophecies of old. Out on the sand dunes, Chani (Zendaya) and Paul fight together for the cause of the Fremen, which leads to a bond between the two warriors that goes deeper than mere romance. They serve alongside their people to fight battles between the factions who desire to control spice production. This eventually leads the story to involve unexpected alliances and the introduction of new enemies to this world and beyond.

At 167 minutes of run time, many may wonder if this is worth seeing in cinemas and if it should be watched multiple times. Without hesitation, this question will be answered with a pounding of the sands with a resounding and robust yes. The time flies by, and most will come to the end of this episode wanting more and disappointed that this chapter has ended. Rarely does a film bring together every aspect of the production with such a degree of excellence. Still, Denis Villeneuve has delivered a near-perfect film with this production. His work is not only a statement for this genre, as it goes further afoot by giving hope to future film making, as Dune: Part Two is nearly flawless on every level.

Greig Fraser’s cinematography, Han Zimmer’s soundtrack and every performance from each cast member delivers within this exemplary movie experience. Some casting choices may be worth questioning, but none that would derail this storyline. Florence Pugh, Christopher Walken and Léa Seydoux are added to the superb cast at various degrees of effectiveness and necessity. Yet, Austin Butler (Elvis) is the highlight of the new additions as he manages to embody the psychotic Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen’s youngest nephew.

It goes without saying that going back to watch the original is worthwhile to thoroughly enjoy the latest stage of the Dune experience. To travel back to the first film will help to make this next film an immersive and engrossing journey into the sands of Arrakis. One that goes beyond the fans of the classic novels as this should help to garner new followers of this universe. Villeneuve has managed to build a world that will speak to our modern sensibilities and touch on ancient texts of faith that will resonate with people worldwide.

Dune: Part Two may be the bridge between the first and upcoming chapters, but it could prove to be the best in the series and undoubtedly one of the best films in years. Audiences should not wait for this movie to come to streaming; this film event deserves to be seen in cinemas multiple times and for years to come.

REEL DIALOGUE: Are people born leaders?

A portion of the story of the Dune legacy deals with the central character being slowly introduced to his birthright as a potential leader and saviour for the people. He is the unassuming heir to lead House Atreides. Still, he struggles with the prophetic messaging of him being a messianic figure.

The message of the film is reminiscent of the Bible’s central themes. This book contains various kings, from Saul to David to Solomon, but none held the title of King of Kings. This label was only given to the Messiah and is one of the many names of Jesus. Unlike Paul, he knew his birthright and the part he would play as the centrepiece of history.

That is quite a bit to ponder, but an even deeper notion from a letter written to the Romans by the Apostle Paul is that followers of Christ are co-heirs with Christ.

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:17

These revelations are exciting things to consider. The first is the notion of Jesus being Lord of your life. If you understand that he is the true King, were you aware that that makes you a co-heir to the Kingdom? It is daunting to take in that he shares the keys of the Kingdom with you, but understand that this privilege goes well beyond any sword you can pull from a rock.

The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” – John 4:25-26

If you would like to discuss love and God, reach out to us at Third Space. We would love to chat with you about this and more.


Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.

All images: Movie stills

About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.

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